It is hard to believe it’s been 13 years since the BlueClaws made their Lakewood debut in April of 2001. 

FirstEnergy Park, home of the Lakewood BlueClaws (Kevin Williams, Townsquar eMedia NJ)

That first-ever home opener has set what’s turned out to be an all too familiar pattern for fans of the minor league baseball team: inclement weather and a BlueClaws loss.

We know the weather should be just fine for first pitch tonight at 6:35 p.m.  at FirstEnergy Park with full sunshine and temperatures around 60 degrees.  Hopefully those at the ballpark tonight will be rewarded with a win as Lakewood has lost 11 of their previous 13 home openers.

Regardless of the outcome tonight will be special with the pomp and circumstance that surrounds the first home game of the season.  Loyal fans will emerge from a brutal and long Jersey Shore winter to in many cases reunite with one another and the BlueClaws staff from General Manager Brandon Marano to the game-day ushers who always greet them with a big smile. The philosophy has never changed over the years…we don’t control what happens on the field but we do control what happens in the stadium.  If you paid out a dollar for every smile you’ll see tonight you’d need a big piece of luggage.

Roy Halladay makes a rehab start with the BlueClaws in 2013 (Lakewood BlueClaws)

This is low-level minor league baseball with 18 year olds from Venezuela and 23-year olds from Calvert City, Kentucky.  They were stars in their hometowns and one day may do the same while wearing the uniform of the Philadelphia Phillies like 35 others have done, starting with Ryan Howard in 2004.

However for most the dreams of a major league career will end in Lakewood or Clearwater or some other minor league location.  They will not achieve fame and fortune and at some point will have to get a real job.  But tonight little kids will clamor for the autographs of players they don’t even know and those players will hustle out onto the field to the cheers of fans just glad that baseball is back because it means spring is truly here.

By the way the Shore Sport Network will once again serve as the flagship radio station of the BlueClaws with all 140 games to be heard on 1160 and 1310AM with Greg Giombarrese behind the microphone.  Air time tonight is 6:20.

Brad Burascano contributed to the Hometown View